SEMINAR: Computational User Interface Design - Antti Oulasvirta

7 May 2013

Wednesday 8th May 2013 at 4pm in Room 110, Roberts building

Despite decades of research and enormous investments by the industry, our most commonly used user interfaces are age-old. For example, the QWERTY keyboard was invented in the 19th century, the menu in the 1950s, and the mouse and touchscreen in the 1960s. I claim that these problems are due to the fact that the space of alternative designs is too enormous to be explored by trial and error. Let us consider the case of designing a menu, one of the most commonly used user interface. The number of possible designs for a menu with 20 items is 20!=2432902008176640000  -- more than there are stars in the observable universe (10 ^ 24)!. Our group investigates computational methods for interface design. The automatization of well-known, recurring problems allows a designer to focus on truly novel aspects. The basis of this work is quantitative behavioral modeling of interaction combined with computational methods for searching the optimal design. Instead of generating and trying out one or only a few instances at a time, the designer defines optimization goals, assumptions about the user and use, and sets constraints, and the computer explores the best designs. We have also developed user interfaces that allow a designer to fluently interact with an optimizer while editing a user interface. Whereas previous work in user interface design has been largely based on trial and error, this approach allows aggressive exploration of millions of user interface designs as part of the design. Research results for keyboards, menu systems, and gestural interfaces are presented as case examples.

Bio: Antti Oulasvirta is a Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and the Cluster of Excellence on Multimodal Computing and Interaction, where he leads the Human-Computer Interaction group. He received his doctorate in Cognitive Science from the University of Helsinki in 2006, after which he was a Fulbright Scholar at the School of Information in UC Berkeley in 2007-2008 and a Senior Researcher at HIIT in Finland in 2008-2011. During his postgraduate studies in 2002-2003, he was an exchange student at UC Berkeley's Neuropsychology Lab and did an internship at T-Labs in Berlin in 2006. Dr. Oulasvirta is an associate editor of International Journal of Human-Computer Studies and Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, and he serves as a subcommittee chair for the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. He was awarded the Best Paper Award at CHI in 2011, the Best Paper Nomination at CHI in 2009 and 2008 at CHI, and the Best Note Award in 2011 at MobileHCI. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Centre for Computing and Communication at University of Copenhagen.

Homepage: http://www.mpi-inf.mpg.de/~oantti/
Group page: http://hci.mpi-inf.mpg.de/

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